A Tale of Two Rivers: an Anglican vicar tells …

I don’t know how many Aussies have heard of the Rev. Stephen Sizer, the crusading, much-travelled British anti-Zionist Anglican vicar, and I don’t know whether there is anyone quite like him in the Antipodes, but I thought this piece, from my own blog, might be of sufficient interest to cross-post here.

Those who read Playboy “for the articles” may recall this libel from the mouth of arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat, in the September 1988 issue of the magazine:

Arafat: “…. Look at the slogans they [Israelis and Zionists] use: that the land of Israel is from the Euphrates to the Nile. This was written for many years over the entrance to the Knesset, the parliament. It shows their national ambition … Do you know what the meaning of the Israeli flag is?

Interviewer: “No.

Arafat: “It is white with two blue lines. The two lines represent two rivers, and in between is Israel. The rivers are the Nile and the Euphrates.”

Declares the genocidally antisemitic Hamas Charter, echoed by Hamas leaders:

“After Palestine, the Zionists aspire to expand from the Nile to the Euphrates”

Iran has also wallowed in the libel, as has its proxy, Hezbollah.

As seen on Elder of Ziyon blog here

In March last year, as Elder of Ziyon pointed out on his blog last Friday,  the libel was featured in a  Global Research article here:

‘When viewed in the current context, the war on Iraq, the 2006 war on Lebanon, the 2011 war on Libya, the ongoing war on Syria, not to mention the process of regime change in Egypt, must be understood in relation to the Zionist Plan for the Middle East. The latter consists in weakening and eventually fracturing neighboring Arab states as part of an Israeli expansionist project.

“Greater Israel” consists in an area extending from the Nile Valley to the Euphrates.

The Zionist project supports the Jewish settlement movement. More broadly it involves a policy of excluding Palestinians from Palestine leading to the eventual annexation of both the West Bank and Gaza to the State of Israel.

 Greater Israel would create a number of proxy States. It would include parts of Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, the Sinai, as well as parts of Iraq and Saudi Arabia…’

In a very competent entry regarding the Israeli flag, Wikipedia notes of the ‘Greater Israel’ canard:

‘Both Zionist and anti-Zionist authors have debunked the claim that the stripes on the flag represent territorial ambitions. Daniel Pipes notes “In fact, the blue lines derive from the design on the traditional Jewish prayer shawl”, and Danny Rubinstein points out that “…Arafat… added, in interviews that he gave in the past, that the two blue stripes on the Israeli flag represent the Nile and the Euphrates… No Israeli, even those who demonstrate understanding for Palestinian distress, will accept the… nonsense about the blue stripes on the flag, which was designed according to the colours of the traditional tallit (prayer shawl)…” Persistent critic of Israel and Zionism Israel Shahak is equally explicit. In his The Zionist Plan for the Middle East he states

 A good example is the very persistent belief in the non-existent writing on the wall of the Knesset of the Biblical verse about the Nile and the Euphrates. Another example is the persistent, and completely false declarations, which were made by some of the most important Arab leaders, that the two blue stripes of the Israeli flag symbolize the Nile and the Euphrates, while in fact they are taken from the stripes of the Jewish praying shawl (Talit). [My emphasis]

Saqr Abu Fakhr, an Arab writer, has also spoken out against this idea. He writes that the “Nile to Euphrates” claim regarding the flag is one of seven popular misconceptions and/or myths about Jews which, despite being unfounded and having abundant evidence refuting them, continue to circulate in the Arab world.’

A succinct explanation of the design of the flag was given as follows by a religious Jew on a forum where the canard had been raised (and run with):

“I hope you will take this answer as the truth it is and not pay attention to terrorist propaganda.

 The blue stripes in the flag are a reference to the blue stripes of the prayer shawl and the tzit[z]it (fringed garment traditionally worn under or over a shirt) which in turn infer the blue of the sea and the blue of the sky. In Jewish tradition the blue of the sight of the sky and the sea is supposed to bring us to an awareness of G-d’s presence.”

To quote Elder of Ziyon here:

“Today, Arabs and antisemites are convinced that the “Greater Israel” plan is alive and well.

How does that jive with the fact that Israel has been doing nothing but giving land up since 1977?”  [My emphasis]

That’s a question that Hassan Alkatib should have asked the Rev Stephen Sizer (about whom, incidentally, see a most interesting article by Dexter Van Zile here) when the two met up for a chin wag.

Alkatib, a British Muslim who makes documentaries that are hardly supportive of the Zionist Entity and used to be a reporter for Iran’s propaganda outlet Press TV (on which Sizer has not infrequently appeared), blogs here.  Notwithstanding that one of his documentaries promotes Islam as “the final revelation” (which presumably means that Islam has superseded Christianity) Sizer in this video appears delighted to talk to him, the subject of the talk being Sizer’s bête noire, Christian Zionism.

Now, the vicar has made a number of eyebrow-raising statements in his time, and he’s true to form in the video.  I was, for example, amazed to hear him tell his attentive and receptive Muslim interviewer not once but twice in the course of the interview that kibbutzim were modelled on by the collective farms in Eastern Europe under Communism.

Oh dear!  Has the vicar not heard of Bilu (an acronym based on a verse in Isaiah: Beit Ya’akov Lekhu Venelkha (“House of Jacob, Let Us Go Up” i.e. in the sense that to go to Eretz Israel, the Land of Israel, is to ascend)?   Does he not know that this movement, founded in the nineteenth century, established the first kibbutz and that the year was 1909, long before the Russian Revolution?

In response, to Alkatib’s question as to whether Christian Zionists “see Muslims as a threat”:

 “Sadly some do …”

(I wonder why that is; could this sort of thing and this and this and  this have something to do with it?)

I could cite other eyebrow-raising replies to Alkatib, and indeed there were things that Sizer might have said to his interviewer but did not, as when Alkatib asked him: “Do you think Herzl was inspired by Nazi Germany … having a country just for one race?”  A resounding condemnation of the mindset that prompted this question would have been nice; instead, it was not directly answered.

But it was when Alkatib asked Sizer about the idea of Greater Israel (from “the Nile to the Euphrates”) and whether Christian Zionists really believe in it that I really sat up and took notice.  The vicar replied:

“Some Christian Zionists do argue that, yes they do.”

And then came the bombshell:

“But it’s ironic that the Israeli flag has two blue lines and a star between them.  They deny that but remarkably it does look like two rivers from the Nile to the Euphrates, but if you buy that … Jerusalem’s got to be the capital …”  [My emphasis]

But then I remembered this:

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